The Grand Hall at The Bedford Sixth Form was the superb setting for the official retirement dinner of Ian Pryce CBE after 26 years as Principal and CEO of what is now The Bedford College Group.
The two Governors who originally appointed him as a fresh-faced young Finance Director to the role of Principal were among the gathering of 100 colleagues and influencers from the FE sector.
A ‘This is Your Life’ format was arranged with eight guests stepping up to speak and share stories of the highlights of his history. A ninth was zoomed in from overseas who talked about Ian’s support for, what was 25 years ago, a pioneering football academy project – used as a model in colleges throughout the UK.
Football has always been an abiding passion of Ian’s who managed to bring Chelsea FC into any of his speeches together with the phrase: “I have the best job in Bedford”. The club has sent him a letter of congratulations.
A key note speech was made from the heart by Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller who was former MP of Bedford and Kempston and now for North East Beds.
“Ian has made an outstanding contribution to our community through his leadership which has seen Bedford College a powerful force in the region and one of the best colleges in the UK.”
Most recently the Bedford College campus upgrade was completed with a shiny new-look refurbished tower alongside the river. Ian was at that opening, when he handed over the keys to the Group to his successor Yiannis Koursis OBE.
Also there was Chair of the Bedford Town Deal Samantha Laycock who joined the retirement party and talked about Ian’s contribution to the Love Bedford organisation and how the college was a major supporter of businesses locally.
Catalogue of successes
Beyond the original campus, Ian’s catalogue of successes included mergers with Shuttleworth College near Biggleswade, Tresham College in Northants and most recently Central Beds College, the opening of The Bedford Sixth Form in a heritage educational environment and a new-styled sixth form in Corby town centre. This together with growth in student numbers and robust finances, means he leaves behind one of the top ten colleges in the UK.
“I have felt very loved by so many in the last few weeks. I wish Yiannis every success in the future.”